It goes by many names, call it tomcat, skirt and blouse, paapa, electric ant, devil’s coach and so on, it is still the same Rove beetle. The menace of rove beetle that has been rocking the university community for the past one month is another instance of the continuous struggle between human beings and their neighbours – the smaller animals.
Before now, there had been Lassa fever, bird flu and more recently, Ebola. Recently, Rove beetle has been the major health concern of the students and other members of the university of Ibadan community. While many have been hospitalised due to the scourge of these insects, majority of the student populace are still ignorant of the ways of these insects and the effects they have on their victims.
WHAT IS ROVE BEETLE
Rove beetle may look very harmless but it is very dangerous. It is a red and black insect and its body size is about 7-8mm. This insect causes blisters when it comes in contact with human skin. It has paederin toxins that cause burns on human skin. The toxin concentration is 12 times more venomous than cobra venom when it gets into your blood stream. Therefore, when the toxin enters your system, it will cause a systemic reaction which may lead to death. Rove beetle is attracted to light at night.
This insect occurs throughout the year but peaks when there is climate humidity which is why it has been prevalent on campus since the past few weeks. People who have physical contact with the beetle have burns on their body and the skin will become red followed by the appearance of pus in the centre of the wound in few days. The wound leaves a scar which is usually a dark patch especially if it is exposed to sunlight. Direct contact is not needed to experience skin discomfort or irritation because the toxin can be left behind on your towels, furniture or other things in your house. However, second-hand contact might not cause the same level of irritation as direct contact but it is still wise to be precautious especially if you have seen them hanging around your room as of late.
- We know the “clap syndrome” is common among Nigerians and as much as you hate creepy crawly insects, this ant is an exception; DON’T KILL or SQUASH IT!!!
- Keep some insect repellent around your room and if you come in contact with the beetle, spray it until it is not moving again. Then, use a tool to pick it.
- The beetle is attracted to light, so avoid being too close to light or minimize the use of light. Always turn off the lights when you are not in need of it.
- Use mosquito nets, aerosol spray or a mixture of organic pesticides from neem leaves and lemongrass to kill the beetles.
- If it has landed on the skin, do not kill it on the body, but flick away with your fingers or blow it until it leaves so it does not leave a mark or spread.
HOW TO CURE THE WOUND
- Immediately wash the infected area with soap and water. If skin reaction occurs, wash it with mild antiseptic.
- Do not scratch the wound no matter how great the urge to itch it is. This is because the venom can even move to another part of the skin over the wound fluid.
- If the injury occurs in the eye area and mucous membranes, you should immediately see a doctor.
- With treatment, the wound will be better within 10 days to three weeks until the scar is gone.
- Victims are also advised to avoid the sun so it will not cause inflammation that causes dark marks on the skin.